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Air New Zealand is ready to revolutionize economy travel for the better. And it’s planning to do so one lie-flat bed at a time.

The airline recently unveiled its Economy Skynest product, a sleep pod with six full-length lie-flat sleep pods that will one day sit at the back of Air New Zealand planes. According to the airline, the design is the result of three years of Air New Zealand research and development and came with the input of more than 200 customers.

“We have a tremendous amount of development work underway looking at product innovations we can bring across all cabins of the aircraft,” Air New Zealand chief marketing and customer officer Mike Tod shared in a statement.  “A clear pain point for economy travelers on long-haul flights is the inability to stretch out. The development of the Skynest is a direct response to that challenge.”

Air New Zealand lay flat economy seats
Credit: Courtesy of Air New Zealand

Tod further noted the development is a much-needed one as the airline operates some of the world’s longest flights, including the soon to launch Auckland-New York flight, which will come with an average flight time of 17 hours 40 minutes one way.

The Skynest, the airline explained, will come with six full-length lie-flat sleep pods somewhere within the Economy cabin. Passengers will find pillows and blankets inside each pod with privacy curtains as well. Each one will be 6.5 feet long and 22 inches wide.

This isn’t the first economy comfort innovation brought by the airline either. In 2011, Air New Zealand launched the "Economy Skycouch,” which allows passengers traveling together to fold a row of economy seats into a bed.

Though the pods are not yet available the airline is hoping to add them to aircraft in the near future after undergoing a regulatory review.

Air New Zealand lay flat economy seats
Credit: Courtesy of Air New Zealand

“We see a future flying experience where an economy-class customer on long-haul flights would be able to book the Economy Skynest in addition to their Economy seat, get some quality rest and arrive at their destination ready to go. This is a game-changer on so many levels,” Nikki Goodman, the airline’s general manager of customer experience, shared. “We’re so excited to be sharing this product development with our customers. This is one of the highlights of three years’ intensive work centered on customer wellbeing. We’re sure this innovation is going to be a game changer for the industry and bring significant improvements to long haul flying. We expect other airlines will want to explore licensing the Economy Skynest from us just as they have with the Economy Skycouch.”

As for how much the sleep pods will cost the airline has yet to settle on a figure, but odds are the lie-flat beds will be in ultra-high demand. The airline is hoping to make its final decision on the beds by 2021.

Mr. Reeves says the scale of the challenge in developing the Economy Skynest and working through its certification with the necessary regulators is immense compared with the development of the Economy Skycouch.

“But it was a prize worth chasing and one that we think has the potential to be a game changer for economy class travelers on all airlines around the world.”